Legislative Alert!

California Assembly Bill 1236

January 17, 2008

AB 1236 - Bill Status: Defeated

Action: None

April 27, 2007

AB 1236 passes Education Committee

Assembly Bill 1236 was heard in the Assembly Education Committee on April 25th. The bill passed -- 7 ayes, 3 noes. AB 1236 has been referred to the Appropriations Committee, where it will be decided whether or not California can afford to pay for a new-voter-rejected "Kindergarten Readiness Program".

Please take the time to contact members of the Appropriations Committee with your objections. You will want to focus on the cost of the program, since this committee holds the purse strings.

The Assembly Committee Analyses states in part:

The California Department of Education (CDE) released a report in 2004 that examined the impact of changing the "cut off" date for admission to kindergarten by 3 months. According to this report, moving the kindergarten date from December 2 to September 1 would delay approximately 114, 235 children (25%) from entering kindergarten for one year and could potentially save the state up to $391.8 million beginning in the second year after implementation.

The Analyses also mentions ten other related bills that need to be looked at for impact on children and families.

April 16, 2007

Compulsory school attendance: Kindergarten Readiness Program

Assembly Bill 1236 will be heard before the Assembly Committee on Education on April 25th. This bill would lower the age of compulsory education for California children to age 5.

According to AB 1236 existing law requires a person between the ages of 6 and 18 years who is subject to compulsory full-time education to attend public school in which the residency of either the parent or legal guardian is located.

This bill would make a person who is 5 years of age subject to compulsory full-time education and would deem kindergarten attendance to be full-time education.

By subjecting children who are 5 years of age to compulsory education and violators of this requirement to criminal sanctions, the bill would impose state-mandated local programs.

This bill also stipulates:

This bill would repeal the kindergarten readiness pilot program and would establish instead the kindergarten readiness program, to be administered by the Superintendent of Public Instruction who would be required to promulgate rules and regulations governing the program. Participating county offices of education and school districts would be allocated funds for purposes of making kindergarten readiness classes available to all children on a voluntary basis and administering local programs.

In other words, they intend to implement a universal preschool program in California, against voter wishes and call it "kindergarten readiness." Very cleaver of them don't you think?

Some points worth mentioning:

Kindergarten is not currently mandatory, yet 94 percent of California's five year olds are voluntarily sent to private or public kindergarten by their parents -- and some are enrolled in charter school home study programs. The other 6% are kept at home and/or homeschooled by their parents. Mandating kindergarten is unlikely to result in many more children attending conventional public school. There is no need for unnecessary legislation and associated costs to mandate Kindergarten.

The state is of the opinion that "all of California's children should have a full-school-day-kindergarten experience." Full Day! So, once mandatory kindergarten attendance for all children is the law, they will "phase in full-school-day kindergarten beginning in districts with schools with the lowest API scores." The costs associated with expanding these programs to full-time would be high.

Since money is the only thing legislators seem to respond to, I will argue to my legislators that it is ridiculous to spend money on broadening Kindergarten programs when the state can't properly fund our failing, existing K-12 schools. (Of course, they will counter that if they can get these children at younger ages, and teach them to take tests sooner -- it will result in better performances on standardized testing in line with NCLB and that means more government money for our schools.)

A research group concluded that "there exists a significant discontinuity between the State's recently adopted pre-kindergarten guidelines and kindergarten academic content standards." The state intends to "align preschool and kindergarten standards, curricula, and services." Standardized Kindergarten curriculum includes instruction and testing in reading, writing, math, science and social sciences at a time when children are developmentally vulnerable and may be irreparably harmed by such a strategy. [See Alliance for Childhood]

What I really wish I could argue is that it is outrageous to lock up 5-year-olds in full day government schools! It is hard to restrain myself from trying to convince politicians that this is nothing more than child abuse by the state. (Of course, they would think I'm a wacko and dismiss me with a roll of their eyes.)

Most of us here know that once Kindergarten becomes mandatory, and voluntary public preschools are opened -- eventually, preschool will be made mandatory too. The regulations and requirements for preschools that are being introduced could prevent parents from "qualifying" to teach their own at home.

Welcome to California -- Standardizing Childhood for the Global Good. (sigh)

What can you do?

Related Links

Special thanks to the California Homeschool Network legislative team.